Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens

Hope for Parents of Troubled Teens provides a wealth of information for parents of pre-teens and young teenagers who want to know what they can do to lessen the chance that their teenagers will become troubled. Author Connie Rae, a licensed counselor who has worked with families and youth at risk for more than 25 years, shares valuable information gained from both study and personal experience in textbook-like form to help parents who fear their teens are headed for trouble to do all they can to head them off at the pass.

That said, except for parts of Chapter 11 and all of Chapter 12, I think the book is misnamed. As the book is mostly about preventative measures, parents of an already troubled teen may find it disturbing. These parents will be drawn to reflect on the past, asking, as they already are, what could I or should I have done differently? What did I miss? Am I entirely to blame? This kind of thinking often leads to feelings of guilt—real or false—and then into despair. It’s an exercise in unreality for parents of already troubled teens—futile thinking, rather than movement toward hope.

Parents of troubled teens don’t need to hear what they could have/should have done differently. They need help accepting where they are and knowing where to go from there—and how. They need to know that God still loves them and their child and that He often works miracles in response to fervent prayer. They need to hear the stories of parents who have successfully travelled beside their own children through the worst of the worst—and of those who have learned that when children choose to rebel, sometimes you just have to let go and know that God loves nothing more than leading prodigal children home! Rae’s son’s message in Chapter 11 and Rae’s own thoughts in Chapter 12 do offer these things. Parents of troubled teens will find some hope in these chapters.

Except for Chapter 12, the book says very little about entrusting our children to God. Instead, it puts a heavy burden on parents to do everything they ought to, should and must. But parents need to understand there is no formula for raising an untroubled child. There are ways to lessen the chances that a child will engage in rebellious behavior—which this book offers in abundance, but parents can’t do anything to guarantee that their children won’t choose to rebel. God gave all people free will—and some teenagers are especially good at using it rebelliously, insisting on learning life’s lessons the hard way. Parents seeking hope especially need to hear this. The hope they seek comes from the God Who created their child and Who loves him or her most of all.

Bethany House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I recommend it to parents whose children are entering their teenage years or to those who suspect their teens may be experimenting with dangerous things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is a little bit of every kind of book I love! It’s a contemporary novel. It’s a historical novel. It’s a fairytale with a mystical wedding dress and, perhaps, a fairy godfather. It’s an allegory. It’s full of romance and mystery and heartache and joy. I’m pretty sure it’s the very best book I’ve had the privilege to read yet this year!

When Charlotte and her ex-fiancé find a wedding dress in a trunk that she purchased at an auction kinda-sorta reluctantly, they wonder what it means. The dress was supposedly made in 1912, but looks brand new and never worn. Charlotte sets out to solve the mystery, following the clues found on a pair of dog tags and a pie shop business card. As she works her way back in time, author Rachel Hauck takes readers straight to the beginning . . .

In 1912, Emily Canton is engaged to Phillip Saltonstall. But Daniel Ludlow longs to win her hand. As far as Emily is concerned, she’s given her word to Phillip. It’s too late for changes to be made. But is Phillip as honorable to his word as Emily is to hers?

Between these stories, there are two more—of Hillary and MaryGrace. All are connected beautifully into one amazing story—about a wedding dress and the brides it seems to choose.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I truly enjoyed the story and am sure others will, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall


The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is the story of Margaret Macy, a young woman living with her mother and stepfather. A few months from her 25th birthday, she is to receive a generous inheritance from her aunt on that date. Yet, her stepfather is determined to take it by forcing her to marry his nephew, a scoundrel she can never love. Macy runs away and goes into hiding as a maid, landing by accident in the home of a man whose proposal she refused—quite brutally. Macy has much to learn as she attempts to protect her secret for the sake of her family.

I’ll admit, the first one hundred pages had me wondering. Through these, author Julie Klassen was setting the scene, introducing us to Margaret’s plight and resulting situation. It wasn’t exactly pleasant, but it was necessary. In the author’s note at the end of the book, Klassen mentions there were many details of the situation she chose to leave out—to spare us. I was thankful for that.

But I was glad I hung in there through the difficult, but essential, first part of the book. Once I got past it, the story was amazing, and I could hardly put the book down.

Again, as compared to the last Klassen book I read, her style reminds me of Jane Austen’s, and the setting is the same, though in Klassen’s case, it’s historical fiction, while in Austen’s it would have been contemporary. Klassen has done her research! (And she tells readers some about that in her author’s note, as well.)

If you enjoy stories about the landed gentry in England set in the early 1800’s, I recommend this novel to you! I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending a complimentary copy for my honest review.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Dawn Comes Early

Dime novelist Kate Tenney has just had her most recent book banned in Boston. Her publisher wants nothing more to do with her. With no family and no career, Kate is ready for a fresh start. An ad for an heiress seems like the perfect lead.

But Kate is barely off the train in Cactus Patch, Arizona when she’s taken hostage by an outlaw with a gun who shoots a hole in her trunk. Is she ready for this new life? Kate is determined to be.

Convinced that all men are unfaithful, but land lasts forever, Kate takes on ranch owner Eleanor Walker’s challenge to learn all she can about ranching in just four months. If she succeeds—and agrees to never, ever, ever, ever marry—the ranch, along with the security she craves, will be hers.

There’s just one little problem: a single blacksmith named Luke.

I really got a kick out of this book. It’s a fun story full of great characters (Ruckus, the banker, Aunts Bessie and Lulabelle)—and Margaret Brownley promises more! I’ll be watching for the sequel in January 2013. Read Dawn Comes Early, and you can watch for it with me.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this read!